Sunday, February 21

London 3 Hull 0

West Ham 3 Hull City 0

The economies at West Ham are clearly biting; Match day announcer Jeremy Nicholas is sitting having his lunch in Ken’s CafĂ©. And no, I don’t think Carol takes credit cards.

I’m with my daughter nine-year-old Nell and her friend Fernanda, who wants to know if Ken’s has free-range meat. Hmm. I suggest the egg, chips and beans.

Nigel arrives with his mate Michael, as Matt is in South Africa thanks to a competition won by his WAG Lisa. Matt reports from SA that there are pictures of Benni McCarthy everywhere, although Nelson Mandela hasn’t as yet asked for a personal update on the Hammers’ fortunes.

“Why do adults always talk about boring stuff like money?” Nell asks Nigel. Clearly she’s heard too many interviews with Gold and Sullivan. “And why don’t they have toys?”

In the stadium Jeremy Nicholas announces our side individually but doesn’t read out the Hull City team. Is this a bizarre plot by the new regime to throw Hull into existential crisis? Will they think they don’t exist if they’re not named?

“No, Sullivan just wants to sell more programmes,” suggests the pragmatic Fraser.

It’s Bubbles time and it’s always a thrill to see a young kid experience the most romantic of football songs for the first time. Nell's pal looks amazed at the effect of 33,000 voices. She might live behind the Emirates but we’ll soon make her a Hammer.

We start well, attacking immediately. In the third minute Kovac dispossesses young Cairney plays the ball to Behrami, who finds Franco. Franco miscontrols it but the ball falls nicely for Valon to poke into the net.

Behrami nearly gets a hat-trick. Myhill tips aside one shot and then produces a brilliant save from a header from Diamanti’s cross.

The recalled Franco is holding play up well and we look much more confident against a side that frequently hacks at our heels. Hull come into it briefly with a couple of crosses from Fagan and some muscular work from Zaki but it’s not until the 45th minute that Boateng produces a fine tip-over from Green.

At the beginning of the second half things go our way. Fagan tries to pick Diamanti pocket with a shirt tug and is red carded for a second booking. Annoying little Stephen Hunt protests and is serenaded with “Where’s your caravan?”

Then on 59 minutes Faubert plays a fantastic through ball past a statuesque Hull defence and Carlton Cole races through to finish neatly. Two-nil in our cup final. They’ll be dancing in the streets of Cape Town.

There’s a wonderful moment when Diamanti sees Myhill off his line and almost scores from the half-way line, Pele-style. Diamanti gets his own song to the old “Nigel Reo-Coker!” tune. It’s just like watching Brazil (playing Hull). Tomkins is mopping up everything at the back and the Hull defence just can’t handle Cole.

Fortified by Haribos and chocolate Nell and Fernanda shout “Come on Hammers!” and “Boo Hull!”. Promising — as long as we can play Hull every week.

Hapless Hull bring on three subs and then go down to nine men when Gardener is injured. Surely even we can hold out against nine men?

“I think we’ll get a least a point,” says Nigel.

In stoppage time Faubert, fortified by a massage from Madam Bovary, breaks inside from the right and thumps a screamer into the top corner of the net. I start to feel more confident.

“Julien! Julien!” salutes the Bobby Moore Stand as the tattooed and recently much-improved full back leaps into the crowd. Since the death of his mother and his decision to play against Blackburn he seems to really appreciate the support from the Irons fans. A great time to score his first ever Hammers goal.

A clean sheet and two successive wins for the first time this season. That’ll do me.


matt said...

At the District Six Museum they politely asked us if we could stop our hooligans travelling to the World Cup, then when we said we were from London they were extremely pleased we were West Ham fans, not Chelsea like all the gloryhunters there. From what I've seen, a well-deserved win - now we just have to win at Old Trafford...

Pete May said...

The mood of the fans and players seems to have turned now we have some stability at the club. We are much better than Hull, and Burnley look doomed as they always lose away.
On Saturday's evidence we have six class players in Cole, Upson, Green, Behrami, Parker and Diamanti and should really be up there with Birmingham and Fulham.
Or maybe the lads were simply inspired by the news that the Hammerettes are returning?

DaDon said...

They were the worst side at Upton Park since Stoke last season who were time wasting after 15 mins of the first half! Faubert is a frustrating mix of the brilliant and the banal and will continue to be a worry until he learns to hoof the ball out of defence when under pressure. The key for me, apart from the obvious attacking reinforcements, is that by accident or design GZ has finally found his first choice midfield. A pity for Collison and Noble but we are so much more compact and combative with Jedward and Scotty in the middle and Diamanti does something productive with the ball 95% of the time he gets it. And he's putting in a hell of a defensive shift too, it's a joy to watch. The other plus is that Franco has picked up where he left off without missing a beat and is a true Hammer already, I just love his blend of quality and commitment.

God knows what'll happen tomorrow night but our fate will tied up with our home results - four wins and a draw is what we need for 40 points, very achievable (given the opposition) if not guaranteed.

TBI said...

Our goal difference is so superior now that we practically have an extra point over the rest. (assuming we don't get hammered by Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal that is)

Pete May said...

DC comments (having been spotted in Ken's Cafe making an unprecedented early arrival at 2.45pm):

Hi Pete,
Great posting, as usual. Carol told me after the game that she's now switching to only organic meat due to popular demand, so well done Nell. The one thing you didn't mention was how terrible the referee was on Saturday. Early in the game, right in front of the dugouts, McShane put his forehead into Franco's -- itself a red card offence these days -- and started pushing him -- again, a straight red. But neither the ref nor the lino seemed to have spotted it, so the Hull player didn't get a card of any sort; all very curious, especially as it was in front of the 4th official. MOTD didn't show it either. Brown had obviously told them to get it right up the southern softies, and the ref was hopeless at stopping them. If he'd sent off McShane -- one of Hull's key players -- we would have been playing ten men for an awful long time and probably would have had the bagful we deserved.

Have you seen a worse (visiting) team in E13 in recent memory? A pub team blessed with a decent goalie, I thought.

Anyway, moaning over: 14th with a nosebleed -- I'm not really complaining.

Pete May said...

Mike comments via his Blackberry device:

"We were lucky they were so shit. Remember Burnley? But great to see the Hammers attacking the whole time, and Franco very useful up front. Fergie will be scratching his head, plus they have Carling Cup final at weekend I think? Giggs and Nani out..."

Anonymous said...

Not sure GF was entirely innocent, Denis, he did throw an elbow which is wha the big galoot was reacting to.

Great result though and kudos to the many who stood up and were counted, not least of all Sandro Di-amanti-O!!!